Back In My Day We Used BASIC And We Liked It
If you are a programmer of a certain age your first programming experience was probably typing BASIC statements into a computer with an 8 bit CPU. It could have been an Apple II, TRS 80 or even a Commodore 64.
If you wanted to learn how to program the choice was already made for you. There was BASIC or there was BASIC.
Personally, I started out in elementary school on an Apple II. I then saved up any money I had from birthdays and other gifts and bought a TRS 80.
It presents a problem though, if you want to teach kids to code. You will have to pick a language. It is unlikely to be as approachable and accessible as the BASIC prompt.
I’ve been reading up on the choices that are out there. I have put together this list.
Efforts have been made to devise curriculum to get elementary students interested in programming.
You can also download a special issue of the PragPub magazine that contains articles about teaching kids programming.
There is also a video of a talk about teaching a five year old to code in Ruby.
Going Back To Basics
Lately, I’ve been thinking that the best way to teach a kid to program may be to get back to basics. That is to say, BASIC on a TRS 80. It could just be nostalgia, but it is entirely possible.
There are TRS 80 emulators that will run on that $199 Linux dev machine.
Thanks to the internet archive, there are also books that teach kids how to work with computers. Check out the entire collection.
Computing doesn’t have to be reserved for a special class of people. The key is to encourage kids to jump right in and start getting to know their computer.